This year’s group had a lot of wisdom to share, beyond what we had space for in the print magazine. What follow are more insights from several of the participants. Please read on, and in the comments below, feel free to share your own “nuggets of wisdom” as to how to be successful in professional pest control.
How does outside industry experience help you in your career today?
Amanda Forestall, Pest-End: “During college, I worked part time at the clothing store Express — mostly for the clothing discount! (Laughs) But it also gave me a sense of what it was like to work for someone else besides my family’s business, and how to interact with customers face-to-face. That job really helped me to build confidence to be a leader, as well as become a better public speaker.”
Chase Hazelwood, Go-Forth Pest Control: “I was in the family business all my life — when I was in high school, I was kind of small so I fit into crawlspaces the other techs couldn’t! But earning a business degree, with a focus on marketing and entrepreneurship, has helped me guide the business. Having Leah, with her marketing background, has also taken our brand exposure to a level where it had never been previously.”
At family get-togethers, is talking about the family business encouraged or discouraged? What is the reasoning behind the decision?
Courtney Carace, ACE, Pest-End: “I have been around the Carace family dinner table since I was 14, and I can confidently say that I don’t believe a meal or family get-together occurs without at least some mention of Pest-End. It is a huge part of our lives, and we embrace open and honest conversations about the organization whenever the situation permits. However, if a conversation ever escalates into a heated discussion, someone is always there to intervene and interject some humor.”
Chase Hazelwood, Go-Forth Pest Control: “It’s important to Leah and me that our kids see us work, to be aware that everything we have doesn’t just ‘happen’ without putting in the effort. On the other hand, we try not to complain or worry a lot — kids can pick up on that stuff, and they should never have to worry about our financial well-being.”
How are you able to hire and retain good employees?
Solomon Airhart, Aruza Pest Control: “Aruza has always strategically used door-to-door sales to grow our residential customer base. We have developed an amazing summer sales internship where we focus on helping young, motivated college students become immersed into a world focused on personal and professional development. During this program, we assist the interns in developing strong communication and sales skills over a 13-week summer. With the compensation plan, a lot of the interns are able to earn enough money to pay down most, if not all, of their college loan debt.”
Leah Hazelwood, Go-Forth Pest Control: “There’s been a side benefit to Go-Forth partnering with the American Heart Association (AHA): It has contributed to employee retention and morale. Our local AHA chapter has walked with us every step of the way in building a wellness program. And we’re focusing not only on physical health, but mental health. When we surveyed what our employees wanted out of a wellness program, 65 percent of them wanted mental wellness. They wanted the chance to improve their lives, so we knew we had to make it a part of our focus. The short-term goal is to help everyone in need — whether it’s to improve their cardio health or talk to a professional about some trouble at home, for example. The long-term goal is for our team to live longer, healthier, happier lives.”
Vess Pearson, Aptive Environmental: “We provide best-in-class tools and training to stay motivated. We continuously invest in our employees to ensure growth and success, both professionally and individually. We believe if we empower our team, they will better serve our customers. This year, we launched Aptive University, a training program for employees that focuses on skill development and leadership training, and are building out academies for our service professionals, our solutions center and our future leaders. We will be adding to the curriculum over time, and it will impact our entire team — with additional opportunities to continue to develop and improve our team’s skill levels. We have also launched a learning and development program to align employee performance and career paths with company goals and objectives. Not only do we take the time and resources to train our team, we also are personally invested in listening to our employees, and helping them to find their own success.”
Courtney Carace, ACE, Pest-End: Implementing an operating system that speaks to you, your organization, and your values is essential. EOS resonated with us, but there are many options out there. Providing structure and accountability will not only enable your organization to grow but will also allow you to sustain the growth you are experiencing. My other advice would be to always remain culture-focused. Compromising your values may afford you the opportunity to experience a meteoric rise in revenue or profits, but it will never be sustained. When you sacrifice at the expense of your values, you will never have the solid foundation needed to become a great, successful company. Your team matters, and they are the ones who will help you achieve the growth you desire. Make sure you prioritize them, and that you build a team full of individuals who reflect your values.
Amanda Forestall, Pest-End: “Two of my favorite quotes are ‘You get what you work for, not what you wish for’ and ‘Become the hardest-working person you know.’ I do not think anyone within our family or team has ever questioned the work ethic of Adam, Courtney or me. For me specifically, when I started full-time in 2005, there were not very many women in the pest industry that I knew of, except my mom and aunt. I knew that by entering a male-dominated field, I was going to have to prove myself by being educated in the industry, with licenses to back that up knowledge. Still, there is no secret to hard work. We have all seen the organic growth that has occurred by my parents working hard, and the three of us have continued on that journey.”
Chase Hazelwood, Go-Forth Pest Control: “Put in the effort to develop your team into leaders. Over time, Leah and I found that creating opportunity for your team is extraordinarily satisfying, for both you and them. It also helps you grow quickly. Our goal has been to double our business every three to five years, and we try to keep pace by developing technicians into managers, etc., to accommodate that growth.”